….because the British press will stitch you up and hang you out to dry.
25 year old Jo Yeates was last seen in Bristol on December 17th. Two days later her boy friend returned from a visit to relatives and reported her missing. On Christmas morning dog walkers discovered her body three miles from the flat which she and her boy friend rented from Christopher Jefferies.
On December 30th Jefferies was arrested by police on suspicion of murdering Miss Yeates.
Within a matter of hours his picture was on the front page of almost every British newspaper
. He was described as “weird”, “lewd”, “strange”, “creepy”, “angry”, “odd”, “disturbing”, “eccentric”, “a loner” and “unusual” in the course of just one article. That the former English teacher should have liked the classic Oscar Wilde poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was described by one article as “Chris Jefferies’ favourite poem was about killing wife”. That the teacher should have taught pupils about the horror of the Holocaust and a classic novel by Wilkie Collins was described as him being “obsessed with death”. He was accused of being a ‘peeping tom’ by people who never made a complaint to police about his activities.
The tabloids (The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail etc) took the lead on this but the upmarket Daily Telegraph pushed a similar nudge/nudge, wink/wink storyline.
In the 1970s he began teaching English at Clifton College in Bristol, a £9,000-a-term public school, and quickly made waves with his flamboyant style and passion for poetry. A lifelong bachelor, colleagues speculated that he may be homosexual. Former pupils recalled that he preferred the verse of Percy Shelley, the Romantic poet known for his dark, Gothic themes, to the plays of Shakespeare.
To some pupils, he was an inspiration and part of the “fabric of the school”. Others, however, nicknamed him “The Strange Mr Jefferies”, and remembered him for his short temper and autocratic style. One of his students said: “He was a stickler for discipline and was very traditional. He used to get very angry and shout and throw books and pens across the room.
“He used to touch people’s hands and he’d say, ‘Oh you’re very sweaty. That means you’re sexually active’. He was very flamboyant, the way he talked, walked and acted. I think the girls were more creeped out than the boys. He was weird.” Mr Jefferies began a film society at the school, with a particular focus on international cinema. James Alvis, a sports teacher and student at Clifton College in the 1980s, said: “He showed some dark films, he was particularly keen on French films.”
Lifelong bachelor, passion for poetry, short tempered, flamboyant, keen on French films….notice how these phrases are carefully crafted to present an image of sinister intent.
Jefferies was questioned for two days then released on police bail.
Three weeks later a Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak, 33, also a tenant of Christopher Jefferies, was charged with her murder. At the beginning of May he pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing with a trial set probably for October.
So the case has moved on but Jefferies remains embittered by his treatment by the police and the media and has announced his intention to sue both Avon & Somerset Police and several neswpapers.
Good for him.
Even better news
The High Court today granted the Attorney General’s Office permission to bring contempt of court proceedings against The Sun and the Daily Mirror over their coverage of murdered architect Joanna Yeates and her landlord Chris Jefferies.
The Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC claims the publication of two reports by the Mirror and one by The Sun following Jefferies’ arrest last year created a risk of prejudicing any future trial.
At the very moment the rich and powerful are using expensive lawyers to secure superinjunctions against anybody reporting their alleged misdeeds a completely private individual’s reputation has been indelibly smeared by media innuendo merely for being a rather eccentric loner.
Scared off by the wealthy and their gold hungry legal hacks but contemptuous of ordinary folk without influence – that’s the UK media.
Editors in jail? Millions in fines? Possible but not likely.
Still one can always hope……